[I’m sure this won’t actually be a daily feature here at V&V, but it’s a pretty reliable description of what much of my blogging is about, so.]
This is how it goes. You tell me you’ve figured out what the “77 cents to a dollar” means, and it isn’t that a woman working the same job as a man gets paid that much less. It’s comparing women’s median pay with men’s median pay, without accounting for the jobs they’re in or hours worked or what. And also there’s a study that among educated 22-30 year old non-parenting adults, women actually make 8% more than their male counterparts. I point out that it’s problematic that women lose out after having kids/ getting older/ etc, so I don’t find this explanation comforting. I say this sort of tersely, and you don’t understand why I seem peeved. You don’t say it, but I know you think I’m being irrational, or too emotional. You’re just trying to figure out what the statistics mean, and have a rational discussion. Or you were just trying to explain why it might be politically more feasible to pass health care reform by throwing abortion-having women under the bus, back in 2009 when our conversation ended with me in tears. Or you were just trying to explain how sometimes powerful men are targeted by governments in a conspiracy that involves getting women to falsely accuse them of rape, or sometimes women falsely accuse men of rape because they’re out for money, and why am I getting upset about this? You’re a good feminist man; you shouldn’t be penalized for being a man; why am I upset with you, when we were just having a discussion?
The recent brouhaha about Woody Allen’s “alleged” molestation of his seven-year-old daughter is just the latest example of misogynistic ugliness disguised in the language of fairness and justice and rationality. “We can’t know what really happened.” “It’s he said/she said.” “She was a child, and she was emotionally damaged, and so even if this is what she believed happened, she was really probably coached by that crazy mother of hers, who just had it in for Woody.” Us emotional women, not holding it together well enough to be reliable sources. Look, Woody Allen has a happy home life now, and Mia Farrow is just angry and bitter and still hung up on the fact that he married her daughter, so she’s obviously lying. Look, R. Kelly was never actually convicted of raping teenage girls, even if there was video evidence. Look, if [pick your philandering politician]’s wife forgave him, why shouldn’t we the voters? It’s none of our business what they do in their bedrooms, so why are you upset about this?
No more of this. No more the art ought to be considered apart from the artist. No more, “but he’s such a smart guy and he’s so good on progressive issues.” Is it really that hard to find non-rapey male politicians who share your views? If so, maybe elect more women, I don’t know. I will not support the Spitzer/Weiner/whoever’s next political comeback, because it’s fine and good if they’ve rehabilitated themselves or whatever, but I still don’t want them to represent me. You could say we shouldn’t judge people by their past mistakes, but to the extent that the whole apparatus of the justice system is predicated on the notion that we judge people, often extremely harshly, for their past mistakes– to the extent that we disenfranchise millions of people for crimes they committed in the past, that we bar them for life from voting– I just can’t be bothered to feel sorry for the dude who can’t get elected again after he failed to keep it in his pants. Is that moralistic of me? Yeah. Call me a family values voter, or whatever, because actually I think it’s important that politicians be generally moral people, not just sharp intellects.
Nearly three years at an elite institution of higher learning has driven this point home for me. There are some really good people at the Yale Law School, and some really smart people, and–shocker, I know– the future politicians among us aren’t always in the first group. You don’t have to be a role model to be in the public spotlight, clearly, but I can choose not to support the people I see as anti– role models, whether on stage or screen or in legislative chambers or judges’ robes. And the fact that I get worked up about this, the fact that sometimes I cry or raise my voice when I’m having these discussions– that doesn’t mean you should write off my opinions as unreliable.